The OPEN Government Data Act is now law

Federal open data, and the role of the chief data officer, just got a boost.
(Getty Images)

President Trump signed the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act on Monday evening, and with it the OPEN Government Data Act became law.

The bill, which requires that all non-sensitive government data be made available in machine-readable formats by default, was incorporated as Title II of former House Speaker Paul Ryan’s FEBP Act and landed on the President’s desk Jan. 2.

The OPEN Government Data Act was first introduced as a stand-alone measure in the House in April 2018. It had popular bipartisan support in both chambers and from open data advocacy groups. OPEN stands for Open, Public, Electronic and Necessary.

Now that the measure is the law of the land, agencies will be called upon to maintain comprehensive data catalogs and designate a nonpolitical chief data officer. The White House Office of Management and Budget will also create a Chief Data Officer Council, comprised of chief data officers from across the government to “establish Governmentwide best practices for the use, protection, dissemination, and generation of data.”


Finally, the language of the legislation calls on the Government Accountability Office to conduct a study to assess whether agencies have complied with the law, and what the value of the information made public as a result of the law is. This will happen within the next three years.

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